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Hayes Scholar to use musical talent for therapy

March 29, 2017

Savannah Stevens, a scholarship recipient from the Hayes Endowment for Musical Excellence, is majoring in music therapy and plays the oboe. “If you think about musical excellence, the students who receive these scholarships have talent,” said Savannah. “Being around these talented people is nice and makes me feel accountable. It creates an environment where you are striving to learn more, where for the first time I’m around a bunch of kids who really want to be here.”

Comparing her childhood in Houston, Texas, to life in Boone, Savannah said, “The scholarship opened the door to a world and an experience that is much bigger than what I could have imagined. I grew up in a city my entire life. To be around this scenery—I never experienced fall before. And I never met people more genuine than the people up here. Everyone here embraces diversity and different talents.” Savannah believes that this environment, both culturally and geographically, will help her grow and succeed.

Savannah said she applied to Appalachian because of its location, the community and because it was one of the top schools in the nation for music therapy. “The beauty of the natural environment in this area is a natural draw for students,” said Dr. Cathy H. McKinney, the director of the music therapy program. “We are happy to hear increasingly from applicants that they have heard good things about the quality of the music therapy program at Appalachian.”

When Savannah first learned about music therapy, she said, “This is it. This is what I want to do. It combines the two things I love, music and serving others.” Savannah grew up dancing, singing and playing instruments at school as well as volunteering locally and on mission trips through her church. She said that some of her fondest childhood memories came from this volunteerism, “I knew I was doing something good for somebody else who needed help.”

In the music therapy program, Savannah will learn to use music within a therapeutic relationship to meet the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual needs of individuals. Savannah describes the profession as “helping clients achieve nonmusical goals through a musical experience. Every client is different and needs different things. It could be helping a client who has experienced a stroke relearn their mobility. It ranges from working with premature babies in NICU (neo-natal intensive care units) all the way to people at the final stages of their life in hospice care.” To learn more about music therapy at Appalachian, visit music.appstate.edu/academics/undergraduate-degrees/music-therapy.

The Hayes Endowment for Musical Excellence was made possible through the the generosity of Mariam Cannon Hayes, whose planned giving continues to increase the impact of the donations made during her lifetime. To learn more about planned giving, visit 1899legacy.appstate.edu or contact the Office of Gift Planning at 828-262-3192.